If you're anything like me, you get distracted easily. #thatiswhyistartedablog
There are so many words of advice out there on how to overcome writer's block, and from experience, usually you can find something that will work for you. If you're new to writing, you may not have stumbled across this landmine just yet. (I remember those days.)
We've all been there. Ready to write a masterpiece, characters born in our minds, the scene is set. Then you find yourself staring idly at a blank piece of paper. Or worse, procrastinating.
Yes. The P word.
The best of us do it, and we do it well.
Here's the harsh truth: Staring at the blank page is procrastinating. Just because you're not avoiding it with other tasks, doesn't mean you're not making excuses. What is stopping you from writing about the blank page? Or procrastinating? Or how you really just want to get started? What is to say these ideas won't turn into something bigger and better?
The secret is to harness your procrastination, and use it to your advantage.
Ready for harsh truth number 2? Writer's Block does not exist.
Here are my 6 tips for beating writer's block/procrastination.
Look up subjects that relate to an idea you have. An example? Imagine a young woman, let's say she's twenty five, the world is at her fingertips. Let's give her a job - perhaps it will be something different, for the sake of this exercise. So now our twenty five year old female is a marine biologist. I don't know about you, but other than the fact that a marine biologist works with marine organisms, I know nothing about the occupation.
Fifteen years ago, you may have had a very slow form of the internet, and probably one of those encyclopedia disks to research with. A library would have been your best bet at gathering information. Today, it's all at your fingertips. Type it into a search engine; look up a blog written by a marine biologist; look at photos of marine life; find out what is involved in becoming a marine biologist. All of these things will be a part of your character and imperative to your next story.
We have access to more information that ever before, and all without leaving our computers. Utilise it, and educate yourself in the process.
Change it up. Have a side project to work on, and preferably something out of your comfort zone. Challenges make us think and help us to realise we can achieve the impossible. Give a different genre a go, and build on your knowledge base. Write non-fiction, poetry, romance, or even children's literature. You may never have considered yourself a writer under any of these categories, but what if you're good at it? It may turn out as a funny satire that is only for yourself. Something you'll look back at later and laugh.
What about the other things you know? The facts? If you're anything like me, you have many different passions, and writing is not a full time job. #iwish
Write a column about what you know. Maybe it will be on writing, or your own tips for defeating writer's block. Pass on your knowledge to others, it won't hurt, just keep on writing.
I'll never forget the advice my father gave when he had taken on coaching the local under twelve's cricket team. A parent had expressed their dislike that my father was teaching the kids spin bowling as well as speed bowling. (They saw no value in spin bowling.)
My father's reply was that their son may be the best spin bowler that cricket has ever seen, but if they don't give him the chance, they will never know. Needless to say, the child was then encouraged to try spin bowling.
You see, without the opportunity to try, we will simply never know. Give yourself the chance to blossom. You'll never know what you will discover.
What made you want to write? When was that defining moment when the light bulb turned on and you decided 'I want to write a story'? Look back at your first inspiration, the first authors that made you think. Re-read the parts of stories that made you stop and think. Re-read them and analyse them. Why do they work? Why do the characters stay with you? What about the writing do you crave? What makes you turn the page, recommend the book or even write a review?
Write these things down down and visit them often.
Writing is not just about getting words onto a page. It is about knowing how to reach people. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Take the time to read and in turn, expand your mind.
Everyone has a book they read that never left them. Characters remind us of ourselves and we remember their struggles and how we shared their pain because we relate to them.
Visiting these old friends brings back the inspiration and the reasons behind what we do.
Ignite that spark again.
Going for a walk, no matter how long for, clears the mind and is good for the sole. (Not to mention the hips.) Your body will thank you for it, and you may find that you come across some inspiration in the process.
Being out doors is great for developing your abilities to describe your surroundings. Think about the smells, the sounds, the people. Take it all in and write about it when you get back.
Making your readers feel as if they are inside the story is one of the biggest hurdles you will face, and learning how to bring your story to life is a big responsibility. Don't take anything for granted. Walk in the rain (within reason). Lie under the sunlight. Walk bare foot on the grass.
Having an inner monologue - if you don't have one already - will become your best source of resources. Capture the moment in your mind and describe it to yourself over and over. Think of obscure ways to explain the colours and sounds.
Take walks frequently and in various surroundings. If walking isn't an option, finding a place to sit is just as beneficial. I learnt this trick when I was only eleven at camp. The camp was designed to teach us about mother nature and the importance of preserving natural habitats. Our first task was to wander out into the open bush land and find a 'reflection space'. No two people could fill that space at one time and we used them at the end of every day to reflect on what we had learnt, by writing in our journals.
This lesson has become invaluable to me as a writer.
Most importantly, read it back to yourself as if you are reading it for the first time.
When the chips are down and you need a boost, you can refer to your notebooks and expand on what you've already written. Even just re-writing the same observations will get you started. Try using different words or adding in characters. Decide for yourself the occupations of the people on the train. Where were they going?
Sometimes the best writing is done spontaneously. Having a pen a paper handy is worth its weight in gold. These days, with smart phones, jotting a few notes into your notepad app is just as beneficial.
On that note, keep them close by the bed. The best ideas come when we're sleep deprived.
I am an avid Tarantino fan. Something he said really stuck with me:
I'm a big collector of vinyl - I have a record room in my house - and I've always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I'm writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.
This is so true for any form of writing. There are so many playlists out there from indie artists that are perfect to get the juices flowing. Even though you may not be writing for the screen, you are still envisioning the scenes in your mind.
Writing a fight scene? Try something grungy and hard. A love scene? Soft piano melodies. It's easy to let go when there is inspiration to do so. Having music softly playing in the background will help you fall into your story, one note at a time.